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One of the UK's best known asset managers, which is also a shareholder in Cineworld, has condemned a proposed £2.7bn deal for the cinema chain to acquire US rival Regal.

Jupiter Asset Management, which owns 0.3 per cent of London-listed Cineworld, believes the business has gone beyond its remit with the proposed purchase of Regal which would involve a hefty new rights issue.

It has raised concerns that the chain would bite off more than it could chew by entering the US markets, which it sees as a massive unknown.

Read more: Picturehouse Cinemas narrows losses while staff approve fresh strike action

“We invested in a business that was growing nicely in the UK and Europe, investing in new locations, new products and refurbishing existing sites. There was an expectation that there were more bolt-ons or larger acquisitions in new European markets,” said Jupiter equities fund manager Alastair Gunn.

“Most shareholders would have been up for a £300m to £500m deal. We had options on mergers and acquisitions, buybacks, dividends and growth. This deal will completely change the balance sheet, and will fall on existing shareholders.”

In contrast to Gunn's negativity, analysts were generally supportive of the deal when it was announced last week.

Read more: Cineworld shares plummet on prospect of takeover-related rights issue: Here's how analysts are reacting

“To strike now, when AMC (the US Number One and biggest global cinema operator) is suffering so much, is a brilliant move by Cineworld, in our view, as it reverses the tables and would push it into the challenger position in the world's largest cinema market,” said Canaccord Genuity's Nigel Parson.

Cineworld said it was in “advanced discussions” to complete the deal, and that any rights issue would have a “commitment to full subscription” from its largest shareholder Global City Holdings.

Original Article

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